Liverpool ended the summer transfer window having failed to clear Jurgen Klopp‘s squad of its fringe figures, leaving four players facing uncertainty.
After securing the signings of Alisson, Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri by mid-July, the Reds sought to utilise the remainder of the transfer window to prune their ranks.
But in the final 22 days of the summer, Liverpool only managed to part ways with Ragnar Klavan on a permanent basis, though Loris Karius and Danny Ings will depart after their initial loans.
Marko Grujic joined Hertha Berlin, Sheyi Ojo made the short-term switch to Stade Reims, Anderson Arroyo swapped Mallorca for Gent and Connor Randall and Corey Whelan stepped down to League One and League Two respectively.
Four players were unable to finalise their exit, however, despite widespread speculation over their futures with opportunities on Merseyside limited.
And with four months until the winter transfer window opens, Pedro Chirivella, Dominic Solanke, Divock Origi and Lazar Markovic are facing a problematic period.
Chirivella, a midfielder who made four appearances in Klopp’s first season at Anfield—including a Premier League start at Swansea City—returned to Melwood this summer with his fate seeming sealed.
After loan spells with Go Ahead Eagles and Willem II in the Eredivisie, the 21-year-old was in line for a permanent departure—with Liverpool initially valuing him at just £5 million.
But after a £3.5 million fee was agreed with Rosenborg BK, he turned down the chance to join the Norwegian side, setting his sights on staying in England or moving back to Spain.
Celtic were touted with an interest, but clearly either weren’t convinced or willing to pay, and despite his experience he has little chance of featuring in Klopp’s midfield even in domestic cup games.
Instead, he will be lieutenant for the Liverpool U23s, and this will hamper opportunities for others—in a similar situation to Tiago Ilori and Mamadou Sakho’s run in the side in 2016, which Nat Phillips described as “a bit frustrating.”
Liam Coyle is likely to suffer the most, and Elijah Dixon-Bonner could remain with the U18s as a result, with the stacked midfield that saw Grujic depart ensuring a trickle-down effect in the academy.
Chirivella will likely then move in January, after a wasted six months—while Rosenborg, who are currently top of the Eliteserien after 21 games, succeed without him.
Of Klopp’s out-of-favour quartet, Solanke was the only player not the subject of concrete interest in the summer—but he was slated to join Rangers if Origi stayed at Anfield.
Instead, both he and the Belgian remained, and four games into the season Solanke is yet to even make the Reds’ substitutes’ bench—having only missed the matchday squad seven times in all competitions last season.
The striker’s hopes are pinned on the fitness of Daniel Sturridge, and a training ground battle with Origi—while Roberto Firmino presides over the first-choice role up front.
It can be argued that Solanke has not progressed further since his loan spell with Vitesse Arnhem in 2015/16, while still on the books at Chelsea.
After scoring seven goals in 26 games in the Eredivisie that season, Solanke now finds himself in a similar situation to Chirivella, and could block pathways into the U23s for Liam Millar and Glen McAuley.
Millar, already a senior international with Canada at just 18, is believed to be the ‘next in line’ up front—but a failed loan move of his own could now prove to be a mistake.
Origi’s failure to leave Liverpool came as the combined result of the club’s lofty valuation and his own lofty ambitions.
The Reds set a £27 million price tag for the striker, but with Wolves offering £22 million plus add-ons, Origi turned the newly promoted side down.
Borussia Dortmund then emerged as suitors, but with Liverpool holding firm their efforts to sign him on loan fell short, with Paco Alcacer instead making the temporary move from Barcelona.
Despite further interest from Valencia and Besiktas, no deal materialised, with Klopp claimed to be happy for Origi to stay and fight for his place—but that will no doubt prove futile.
The 23-year-old has been handed a lifeline after being named in Klopp’s 21-man Champions League squad.
But he can be considered behind Firmino, Sturridge, Solanke and Rhian Brewster in the pecking order, with his best hope of working his way up the ranks ending at third choice.
Origi will surely move on in January, or in the summer, for less—his contract expires in 2020, and as proved with Markovic’s failed move to Anderlecht, Liverpool will likely be forced to take a loss.
Markovic’s deadline-day fiasco served as the most bemusing transfer failure of the Reds’ summer, with a deal with Anderlecht collapsing in the final minutes of the European window.
The Reds had accepted a meagre £2.9 million for the Serbian, but after travelling to Brussels to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical, Markovic opted out of the switch.
Though the player himself has refuted claims this was due to his wage demands, it is difficult to envisage another scenario where he would choose to remain at Anfield.
His subsequent omission from Liverpool’s 23-man squad for the Premier League underlined his hopes of featuring under Klopp between now and January.
In fact, it is uncertain whether he will even train with the first team, or play for the U23s.
After back-to-back loans at Fenerbahce, Sporting CP, Hull City and Anderlecht, Markovic now seems content to sit out the remainder of his contract as a promising career fades.
For Liverpool, the failure to shift him and Origi in particular shed light on a different side to the transfer market.
As excellent as Michael Edwards’ work as sporting director has been, the Reds arguably priced themselves out of deals for their deadwood—who are left in limbo.